*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Across the Void by S.K. Vaughn #Brainfluffbookreview #AcrosstheVoidbookreview

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I was so excited about this one – the premise looked amazing and the opening scene absolutely hooked me. What a fabulous beginning…

Commander Maryam “May” Knox awakes from a medically induced coma alone, adrift in space on a rapidly failing ship, with little to no memory of who she is or why she’s there. Slowly, she pieces together that she’s the captain of the ship, Hawking II; that she was bound for Europa—one of Jupiter’s moons—on a research mission; and that she’s the only survivor of either an accident—or worse, a deliberate massacre—that has decimated her entire crew. With resources running low, and her physical strength severely compromised, May must rely on someone back home to help her. The problem is: everyone thinks she’s dead.

First, the good news. The first half of the book is riveting – that opening sequence where May surfaces on a failing ship, struggling to work out what is going on with a badly glitched AI and memory issues, worked extremely well. The science aspect was entirely believable and the character development and backstory were effective and well written. I was drawn into her life, despite not liking her very much.

I also liked the fact that May was black, with a successful black mother who had helped and supported her. So it was a real shame that I never really warmed to May – in fact as the story wore on, I found myself disliking her selfish behaviour more and more. For me, the dealbreaker was the disgraceful manner in which she neglected her mother as she became old and ill – and then made a huge scene on her death, where we’re all supposed to feel very sorry for her grief. Hm – not me. By this point, I was sick and tired of May’s self absorbed behaviour, just hoping that poor old Stephen would see the light and run away in the opposite direction from her as fast as possible.

Because if you’re sensing a BUT, you’re right… this is a book of two halves. The first half drew me in and absolutely had me hooked, but about the halfway stage, I had a ‘Whoa!’ moment. The storyline lurched into the utterly unbelievable – setting up camp in Fantasyland, where it firmly stayed. I continued reading, hoping that somehow, at some stage, this would stop reading like the script of a really silly sci fi movie, and dial back to what started out as a thoroughly engrossing, strong story. It didn’t. The silliness wore on into the outright ridiculous.

It’s a shame. The characters were well depicted, so that even if I hated the main protagonist, it didn’t stop her being well portrayed, warts and all. The story could so easily have continued to be a gripping, well written thriller with plenty of heft, instead of lapsing into lazy Hollywoodesque clichés that I saw coming on encountering the opening sequences. Frequent comparisons with The Martian demean both the film (which did get a tad daft at the end) and certainly the book, which is far better crafted and more realistic than this effort.

Apparently, the tortured romantic element is being touted as sci-cry – and it’s certainly a crying shame that a better editor didn’t rein in the author(s) in this promising, yet horribly flawed effort. Not recommended for anyone who enjoys believable sci fi.

While I obtained an arc of Across the Void from the author via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
4/10

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25 responses »

  1. “it’s certainly a crying shame that a better editor didn’t rein in the author(s) in this promising, yet horribly flawed effort.” Haha! Thanks for reviewing this. Sounds like something I’ll steer clear of!

  2. Wow, sad to hear this, but yours isn’t the first negative review I’ve run across. It certainly sounds like my kind of book, but the switch halfway through would be jarring for me too. Thanks for your honest review😊

    • You’re welcome, Tammy. As you know, I generally don’t write particularly negative reviews – but I felt that after such a strong start, this one was literally flung away…

    • Apparently so… though if this is going an indication of the general quality of this sub-genre, then I shan’t be bothering.

      Not that I’m fed up in any way about this one. At all. Nope – not a bit.

  3. I gotta say , though you do talk about the riverting first half , don’t most sci-fi movies start the same way? Passenger and the moon had similar beginning if I remember right

    • Yes – and I’ll be honest, Rash, that is the source of my real aggravation with this book. The authors can clearly write a strong, coherent plot and good characters. Good sci fi movies don’t then completely chuck away a strong beginning and suddenly fall back upon hackneyed, predictable and completely unconvincing plotlines merely to amp up the action, rather than pay attention to the ongoing narrative arc that had been initially so successfully established.

  4. Nothing depresses and at the same time annoys me like a book with a strong, fascinating premise that end up sliding into the obvious and predictable. I commend you on your patience, because I would have stopped reading as soon as things started going down the drain…
    And “sci-cry” is a great description!!! 🙂

    • Thank you, Maddalena – to be honest, I would have stopped sooner, but I couldn’t quite believe that a book that started with so much promise and strong writing wouldn’t pull itself together and improve.

      I’d love to take credit for the phrase sci-cry, but it’s coined to describe a tortured love story set in space. Apparently.

  5. It be rare that I see ye post anything negative. In fact I am having trouble coming up with a single thing. I did see this title and was interested. Now I am not. Nice review matey.
    x The Captain

    • Thank you, Cap! Yes… it’s not something I regularly do, mostly because when I really dislike a book, I generally DNF it. However I couldn’t believe that a book that started so strongly would continue with the streak of silliness that overtook it about halfway through. Sadly, it did – so once I finished the book, I felt I needed to write the review… I hope you’re having a lovely weekendx

  6. Oh dear, I do have a copy of this one and was hoping to pick it up soon but this review certainly doesn’t make me keen to do so. How disappointing – I loved the sound of this and if I recall correctly it was described as a book that lovers of ‘the Martian’ would enjoy.
    Poomp.
    Lynn 😀

    • Yes… the constant comparison to The Martian is VERY irritating! I look forward to seeing what you make of this one – reading the Goodreads reviews makes me realise that a whole bunch of people apparently thoroughly enjoyed it…

    • You may actually enjoy it. Some people have given this book five stars – alongside their comparison with The Martian. It’s a good job we don’t all like the same things, I guess.

      • Oh, agreed. The day I finally write about how much I hate the film Annihilation, let alone the Disneyfied Star Wars films, will be a day of, I assume, some pretty extreme reactions…

      • *Gasp* You don’t LOVE Star Wars???? I can beat that – I HATE HATE HATE John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ – nihilistic nonsense in my opinion. But it’s one of the nations favourite. Apparently…

      • LOL! Well to be clear, I LOVE the Original Trilogy, and I don’t hate the prequels…well I do, but the kids get a kick out of them because R2-D2 gets to do fun things. So I *tolerate* the prequels. 🙂 But the Disney films have been recycled rebooting or kill off all that people cared about to force them to care about new people that have done NOTHING to earn investment from us.
        Gah, I’m already starting!
        (I didn’t mind Rogue One, for the record, which of course a lot of people hate. It had a lot wrong with it, but at least it didn’t have anything to do with already established characters. I was cool with the Shakespearean tragedy of it all.)
        LOL Imagine! I can’t even bring that song to my memory. I’m one of 3 Americans who hasn’t heard that song “Only In America” by…what’s his name…Childish Gambino. I just don’t care. This probably means I’m not patriotic….

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